Wednesday, December 29, 2010

WOW! Long time with no update! Im back in the USA

Well, basically Im back in the USA!

I was getting a little bored living my dreams with no waves. OK, OK... basically I should have pushed on but I had been hanging out with the previous owner of a Wharram Pahi 42' catamaran that Im in love with. He hooked me up with the current owner who is moving to Colombia for awhile and the new owner needs a captain for the trip.

I have been talking with him and basically we came to an agreement about the trip and some work that needs to be done on the boat. So Im headed to Panama City, FL to live on the boat for a month or so while I get the boat ready. Then sometime at the end of Feb or mid March, we will be heading off to Colombia.

Im pretty excited about this trip and the timing is great. Ive talked to friends back where I was in Mexico, apparently still no waves!!!!!! This whole thing is about adventure so I will follow it wherever I have to go.

Im suffering a little heartache though. So many goodbyes and brief welcome homes. I got to see my family and friends for about 4 or 5 days and now Im heading off into the horizon once again. Im missing one of my best friends pretty badly as well and saying goodbye to her is always hard. But the thing Im finding it the hardest to deal with is not having my dog by my side. I left her back in Texas with my parents for awhile and its very hard after traveling with her for 3.5 months and being with her every single day and night. I love that dog... more than I knew. So with a heavy heart, I push on...

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Daydreams and Ideas

Today was kind of a slow day and I didn’t accomplish a whole lot that I needed to do. I talked with the mechanic for a little while on the phone and we tested a few things and he gave me a few things to check out but looks like I will be taking him my car on Monday morning. I stopped by the local welder who is working to put a water tank under my van but he pulled yet another Mexican Manana on me, meaning tomorrow. That is their favorite word down here and he has been using it a lot lately!

I stupidly decided to look at boats for sale for craigslist and I found myself totally in love with a couple. One of them was just perfect, something I have been looking for and right in my price range! Arrrrhhh why do I do this to myself? Gets the ole head rolling and the day dreams start working and pretty soon Ive got my whole story worked out as to how I can get that boat, where I will live while I work on it and how much money I need for this or that. You think I would learn from repeatedly doing this to myself but no… its fun to daydream right?

Project “reorganize the van” kicked off yesterday and we got a little done. I think I can save some space here and there and Im working on an idea to have a table mounted on my back doors so when I open them, I can swing the table up from each door and they will meet and lock in the middle. I can cook very well like this and I wouldn’t even have to remove my propane tank anymore! Ill explore more of this later.

There was another huge Quince last night. As I have written before these are celebrations for a girl when she turns 15 and it’s a huge party if the family has money. Well needless to say, this family had a ton of money and they rented out the dance place here in town and pretty much blasted music until 5am along with fireworks and the whole shebang. I got invited in when I was walking past for some tacos but I declined, opting for more of a quiet night. I kind of regret not going because those things can be a blast but it was probably for the better and I saved a lot of money not going so Im happy.

I started tossing around the idea lately of heading out to the Yucatan to Cozumel or Isla Mujeres and getting a job for a few months to put some more cash back in my pocket. I wrote in a previous post about how much money I have been spending and I would like to re-earn a little of that which I have blown so stupidly. I was talking to a buddy who sailed through that area almost 2 years ago and he seemed pretty confident I could find some work somewhere on a boat or a bar or something along those lines. Im not looking for anything crazy but Id like to make a grand or so in a couple of months before I move on. We shall see how this pans out.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Narcotraficantes and Van Fun

It has been awhile since I have written anything. Not much has been going on as the surf has been next to flat for the past 2 weeks. Every surfer in town is starting to go nuts and if waves don’t show up soon, who knows what kinds of atrocities could aspire!

Lately Ive been working on my car and trying to get it fully ready for the upcoming parts of my trip. I have been working with a local welder about mounting my tanks under the van and this should be happening tomorrow afternoon. He is building a custom mount that will allow me to remove the tanks for refilling and inspection from the military and federales. By getting the tanks under the van I can start carrying a decent amount of water for cooking and cleaning which will be nice. Currently Im living out of water bottles and that is really starting to SUCK! I need to figure out some form of food storage because living out of plastic bags is just not working for me either. I was working on something in the van the other day and I sat on almost an entire loaf of good wheat bread and I smashed it to smithereens! Im thinking about getting a decent size cooler or a small bin to store food and other things I need when Im cooking.

Cooking is something I have been trying to do more of lately because its time I learn and its time that I get my spending back under control. Im not living horribly out of my means but I need to save cash and cut corners wherever I can and cooking is just too easy to not do this. I realize now that not having a table or some form of platform to cook on is a huge pain in the ass, so Ill be working to solve that problem very soon. I have only been cooking eggs and beans which is super easy but tomorrow Ill start hunting the internet for some good recipes to try out but I must build some type of a stable platform for cooking because right now working with vegetables or anything of the sort is just out of the question.

I have also been working on the van trying to solve my gas mileage problem. Currently Vanny is drinking gas like no other and Im not sure exactly why. I have been working hard on this problem but Im at a turning point where I can start buying unneeded parts or I can turn to a mechanic. I have put the car into diagnostic mode so Im watching the Open/Closed loop modes change and everything is ok. I have een testing sensors and so far they are all coming back ok save for my O2 sensor which is operating a little whacked. Right now that’s my main suspect but tomorrow I will work with a local mechanic who has an OBD1 reader and we can query individual sensors and get his opinion on what is wrong. This is one of the hardest problems I have ever had to tackle on a car and its tough to say the least without a good source of tools and information! Id like to possibly drop my gas tank and blow all the lines clean too but we shall see if I follow through with this.

The other night I was reading my buddy Tioga George’s blog and he mentioned he was heading to a place very near me and was going to leave his RV there while he flew back to the states for a few weeks. I dropped him an email but decided to go meet him on a whim and so I drove up to Penitas RV part in La Penita, about 1 hour north of me. He wasn’t due in until the next day so I stayed the night in the park and soon met some friends at the get-together all the RVers were having. I met the only 2 girls near my age in the entire park (32 &36) and we decided to head into town and check out a band that was playing bluegrass music. We had fun listening to them and I talked with the girls for a bit and figured out their stories which is always fun. One of the girls is from Canada and works seasonal work up there for 6 months and the other 6 months she comes with her parents and works in the RV park in Mexico. The other girl was from Germany and was just traveling Mexico for a few weeks alone and had seen some cool places.

We left the first bar and headed to a local karaoke place because the German girl wanted to sing. Listening to her sing in English was pretty funny but I gave her major credit for going for it. I couldn’t even imagine myself trying to sing some of my favorite Mexican songs in Spanish! There was another Mexican girl in the bar by herself and she was singing a few songs. I asked her if she would sing one of my favorite songs for me and she agreed and sang it pretty good. Later on she started talking to me and I asked her where she learned her English.

“I lived in Chicago and Los Angeles for awhile” she said.
“Ohh really? Why are you back in Mexico? Did you get deported?”
“Yes I did. I spent one year in jail in Chicago. I am a narcotraficante, so is my whole family”
“Mmmm, how interesting” I said feigning interest and scanning the exits.
“Yes… quieres una novia Mexicana? Eres muy guapo y quiero balair contigo!”. Which basically means ‘do you want a Mexican girlfriend? You are very cute and I want to dance with you!’.

We talked a little while longer and she wanted to come back to Punta Mita with me but I played it cool and avoided the topic. She was very pretty but messing around with girls who have a history in drug trafficking is not exactly my idea of fun. In fact I was beginning to wonder how in the world I could have such luck lately but that’s another story. I did think briefly about what could be the worst situation and I know tons of guys who would have gone for it anyways and just dealt with the problems as they come along. I figured this would be an excellent way for me to face my fears and try and regain some trust in myself and those around me, I mean… would they really want to kill a gringo just for hooking up with their sister? I left those questions unanswered and went back to the RV park with the girls I had come with. I went to bed as soon as we got back because I had to get up early and wait for George’s arrival!

I woke up the next morning and while walking around the van I noticed my left rear shock hanging by a thread. SHIT! The nut on the top mounting bolt had fallen off somewhere on the road and the shock let go but thank God the bolt was still hanging on. I unmounted the shock and threw it in the van figuring Id just deal with this later as my air bags were still supporting the rear end quite well. I took Chica for a walk on the beach where she made a new friend and they played for awhile chasing each other up and down the beach and through some of the waves until they both gave up in total exhaustion. Right about that time George pulls into the RV park and I let him get settled before I went to meet him.

I walked up the hill and saw the famous Tioga RV from his blog that I have been following for the past year. I introduced myself to George and I spent the morning chatting with him about his adventures through Mexico, life and the recent suicide of his son back in California. I knew he needed a ride back into Puerto Vallarta for the plane and offered him a ride back as I was headed that way anyway. He accepted and we left around 12:30pm just in case there was traffic on the bridge in Vallarta that recently collapsed due to heavy rains. We arrived at the airport right in time, shared a lunch of Carl’s Jr and went out separate ways. George is a very cool guy and Im glad I had the chance to meet and talk with him. You can follow his blog here.

Well its been an interesting couple of days but nothing more to write about, just the normal day to day life in Mexico. Ive been considering a new plan of settling in long term somewhere and getting a job and making it through the winter and saving my money for summer time. There has been little to no swell in the pacific so far and its getting old watching my bank account dwindle. I know Im down here living the dream and having fun but I need to get my spending back under control. I checked out a few numbers tonight and it looks like basically I have spent $3800 dollars in 3 months of living here and that’s just unacceptable. I need to get this back down to around $600 a month if I have any hopes of staying here long term.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Surf Movie I Made!

Put this together with my GoPro Hero camera. Footage is all from Punta Mita and its relatively small but hey, still a ton of fun!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Video Work - Old post

I didn’t do much today. The surf has been pretty small overall so today I focused on working on my surfing video I have been putting together. That led to other events and overall is was quite a busy day.

I finished the overall editing of the video last night before I went to sleep and it wasn’t too much work. I was quite happy with the overall product and after a few test renders I was quite happy. I couldn’t do the final render however because I needed an internet connection to check up on the latest Youtube requirements and recommendations for video encoding and I needed some software. I spent the entire afternoon working on the encoding process for youtube and getting some software I needed. I ate a can of tuna for lunch with a coke. I have been craving some fruit but the local shops have been severely lacking on the fruit front lately. All of their products are usually rotten after 3 days if you don’t catch the fresh batch.

I was working on my video when a girl I met the other day came inside the courtyard of the hotel where I camp and asked if she could have an old towel for a dying dog nearby. I got her a towel from Lisa (owner of the hotel) and I went with her to help her with the dog. The dog was the average homeless Mexican street dog and was in very poor condition. He was bleeding pretty badly from what appeared to be a wound on his neck and he was covered in ticks and in overall very bad condition. He was extremely malnourished and every bone in his ribcage and hip was showing. She called a vet and then went to find her while I helped the supposed “owner” move the dog into the shade and out of the sun. I got my muzzle for this task because I didn’t want to risk a bite from a street dog with no history of a single vaccination.

The girl returned with the vet and I tried to help the best I could The vet set out to rescue the poor dog but I had to intervene and ask if possibly euthanizing the animal would be the best option. Adoption for dogs down here is almost non existent, especially for a 9 year old Mexican street dog but the vet seemed positive about the situation so I let her work. Turns out the wound on his throat was some type of tumor or serious infection that had opened up. She had to give him a mild anesthetic so she could open it more and drain the fluid and blood and I watched this girl lance open this dogs very swollen throat with a razor blade. She took very good care of him and overall he seemed to just be happy for the attention he was getting. Its such a sad sight…

I finished working on my video and uploaded it to youtube only to find out that for some reason the youtube compression schemes changed what I sent in, and interlaced the project. Interlacing is more complicated than I can explain but basically, its horizontal lines, usually visible in fast motion on the screen. The video quality overall is pretty impressive but I have a better video that is de-interlaced that I need to upload in its place.

Me and the surfer crew all went to dinner at a local place and returned back to one of their rooms to watch Borat and that’s pretty much the conclusion of my night.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good Waves and the Balance of Life

Well we ended up going to Sayulita last night and boy did we have fun. We didn’t back to Mita until 5am so that meant I didn’t wake up until 12:30pm today, it’s a hard life let me tell you.

I ran over to Debo’s because I had to meet and talk to these two guys that wanted to discuss a small side trip with me to explore. I had hung up some business cards on her board as a joke and they wrote “Surf Guide – Have Van, Will Travel” and these two guys inquired. We talked for awhile about the area they wanted to go and they changed their minds. We are thinking now like a 2 day camping trip up into the Sierra outside of Vallarta, to a small town called San Sebastian. They came down to Mexico after crewing on a sailboat in the Baja Ha Ha regatta and have been boat hopping ever since. Currently, they are working on and watching (for room and board) the 62ft catamaran of the owners of Latitude 38 magazine! The cat is huge and has been anchored off the beach for awhile and I have been wondering about it.

I came back to catch Tim and we decided to head out for a surf. We chose Anclote because its close, easy and extremely fun on a longboard. It wasn’t that big out there, maybe knee to thigh high but it’s a long wave and it just peels for yards. I caught a few rides that were close to 100 yards even in the small conditions! The sets were few and far between though so we basically decided it would all be party waves and drop ins would be allowed due to lack of waves. I dropped in on Tim several times and it was fun to look back behind me and see him gliding along maybe 20ft behind. The sunset was absolutely perfect as I watched it sink behind the hills and condos, casting an orange glow over the water and the rest of Mita. I looked back at shore for awhile, everything being bathed in that orange glow. The palm trees blowing in the offshore winds and the fishing boats zoomed by to return and sell their catch for dinner in the restaurants. I could see Chica, sitting on the beach waiting patiently for me to return, occasionally playing with other dogs and barking furiously at innocent passersby’s. I realized that this is what I came here for. I relaxed some of the constant shit Ive been giving myself for staying here so long and realized that happiness is happiness. Good waves, good friends and a good town. Really, what more can I ask for? Im living my dream and in paradise with consistent surf. That is enough for me and Im working to tone down my constant bashing of myself and this place.

Tim, Christian (the newly arrived aussie) and I are heading out Sunday to a secret spot Tim and I know about 2 hours south of here. We are hoping to score some juicy powerful waves that will pick up the southern swell better than here and this place is known for pull in barrels and fast down the line beachbreak. I got my ass handed to me here about 4 years ago but my surfing has much improved since then so Im looking for a barrel to get myself into, even if I have to take a few beatings from mother ocean. That’s the price for hiding in the green room a little. With surfing and almost all things involving our mother ocean, you must give in order to receive from her and that is the balance of life I guess.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mind Ramblings...

My day started off pretty good. I woke up early around 8am and went to help out Debo with the opening of her restaurant. Turns out she didn’t need much help so I ordered some food and hung out. I ended up hanging out all day at her place with nothing else better to do but talk with some of her customers, friends and more friends. Not a bad day that’s for sure as I could think of a million other things I’d hate to be doing.

After a while my Argentinean friend Alvaro showed up and we hung out for the remainder of the day at Debo’s. We talked about many things, women, the world and traveling. He came from Argentina on a whim and ended up staying and working here. He used to work at a restaurant here in town but that didn’t pan out for him and now he is freelancing selling boat trips and renting kayaks to tourists. He also gets together with other spear fishermen like himself and heads out into the ocean and spear fish for money and sometimes they do pretty well!

Later that night a girl I met exactly 1 month ago on my birthday night showed up and by then we had started in on the beers. I have been taking it very slow the past 2 weeks so I decided to reward myself and step it up a notch with these good friends. We hung out until Debo couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore and we headed out into the night to Alvaro’s apartment where he had beers waiting for us. First we swung by his old work to pick up his girlfriend so he and I killed time on the jetty with my baseball bat knocking rocks out to sea which ended up being great fun if not a bit difficult due to low lighting and beers. We went back to his place with his girlfriend who is the chef at the restaurant. That girl is an amazing cook and is super cool and we spent a few hours talking and trying to convince her to quit her job and go work for Debo.

There hasn’t been much surf lately, I mean its waist high but I just can’t seem to get my shit together right now. I’m happy but not truly happy. I figured out some of the problem by thinking a lot into what it is that is bothering me. I spent 4 years dreaming of this trip and putting the money together to make it happen. That dream, that goal was my sole reason for waking up in the morning and keeping my life together. Without it, I was lost. Now that I am living that dream, that huge goal I now have a bad vacuum in my life. I no longer see the reasons for waking up in the morning to lounge around doing nothing. To some people this sounds like heaven, to me its almost hell at times. Without a purpose, a goal or a dream what the hell are we doing here and what the hell do we do when we accomplish that dream? I need to sit down and try and build a new goal system for myself. Ive never had a problem in my life making goals like so many people do but right now Im struggling for reasons. Im struggling for dreams. Im finding myself more and more stuck in the town of Punta Mita. Why move on? Why even be here? I love surfing but the stoke is dead right now. I did such a good job of killing my desire to ride waves for the past 3 years. I was working and I knew it was silly to keep filling my head with visions of surfing waves and desires to take side trips and now I find it very difficult to turn it BACK ON! Here I am in a prime surfing destination and I haven’t done a morning and afternoon session even once! I surf for a few hours and get my fill and that’s it for the day! What the hell is wrong with me???? Ive been talking to a surfing friend on the internet and he advised me to head to Baja for great cheap camping, cool people and great waves in the wintertime. Baja isn’t too far for me and riding the 18 hour ferry across the Sea of Cortez sounds appealing but I can hardly make myself stir at this thought. Truly stuck. What the hell??? I should be taking off at a moments notice and heading for new destinations and sunsets. I have the money, the means and sure as hell have the ability and yet I find myself unable to do anything more than drive 5 minutes to my nearest break. I haven’t even tried to surf any of the other 5 spots in this area!!! I need to get out of this rut. I need to find a purpose again, a good goal. Im not thinking suicidal or anything so please don’t be concerned. Ive always loathed suicides as such a waste of a good opportunity. When you no longer fear death and actually wish for it, you have become the most powerful person in the world and you should put it to good use or go out like a champ, not in your closet with a shotgun. Im just in a slump and I don’t really know why. I hate to sound like im bitching to all my readers but basically my blog is also my form of a journal and Im trying to get somewhere on the path of recovery by writing this and getting it out of me. This is very therapeutic for me and I enjoy it so just skip this post if you find it annoying to read about the kid who has everything and lives the dream in his van down in Mexico and is now depressed. Im at least waiting until I get my foam (should be tomorrow) to repair my surfboard before I move on because I do not know when I may be able to score some again. Anyways… Im headed to bed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Small Surf...

Today was an interesting day in the sense that I didn’t do a single thing all day long and man did it feel good! I woke up around 11am in the van parked out front of my friends place in Nuevo Vallarta and grabbed all my cooking stuff and made us eggs with refried beans and it wasn’t bad. The eggs weren’t anything special but the beans I decided to get a little creative and added some diced jalepinos and a few other things like some Salsa Huichol and boy they turned out great!

I sat around all day doing nothing but watching movies because I just could not bring myself to find a reason to do anything else. Finally I decided to go surfing and get out of Nuevo Vallarta and back out to Mita for some camping and alone time. Im really starting to like some of my time being semi alone most of the day. I pulled up at La Lancha and caught a friend walking out saying it was small and 20 people out due to the Mexican holiday and he didn’t even bother paddling out. Well crap, me neither. I know it sounds shallow but I was just not in the mood to fight crowds for small surf so I headed into Mita to check out Anclote, another surf spot that has long slow peeling waves, perfect for longboarding. I found it barely breaking with only one guy out so I decided that surfing was not going to happen that day. I swung by Debo’s and talked with her for a minute and got an invitation to join her for dinner. She had several large fillets of Castel or something and wanted to take it to a nearby restaurant.

I took a shower back at Lisa’s place and headed back over to meet Debo and we walked down to a local restaurant and had them cook the fillets in coconut with a side of mango sauce. The fish was incredible and I highly enjoyed it! We had way too much on our hands so I ate like 5 fillets and became totally sick of coconut by the end of that experience.

After dinner I retired to my van in my normal camping location. I started reading Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” for the first time. I have seen the movie but like always the book was just better. It did however make it a much funnier read because I could play out the movie in my head as I was reading the lines and I could picture the crazy insanity that was being described. One of my favorite lines in the book is “We had several narrow escapes: at one point I tried to drive the Great Red Shark into the laundry room of the Landmark Hotel – but the door was too narrow, and the people inside seemed dangerously excited.”. That line just makes me roll with laughter at the hilarity of the statement, dangerously excited? Really?

I also dug into an interesting book I had been wanting to start reading called “Sex, Drugs, Einstein, & Elves” by Clifford A. Pickover. It’s a book about highly complicated and at times esoteric topics like DMT and alternate universes, the concepts of language and if it limits the human ability to think. I love the book so far and you can read the mini topics easily and put it down for another night. I read about DMT and other mind expanding drugs and the debate if alternate dimensions do in fact exist and people can indeed visit them with the help of drugs, or if they are just really high and our super powerful brains are creating alternate realities and experiences. DMT is a chemical found naturally in the body in the pineal gland in the brain and some scientists believe it is responsible for the images and sights commonly described by people that have “near-death” experiences. It is highly hallucinogenic and mind altering and actually used with success to treat heroin addicts and alcoholics, often with the patients never having the desire to abuse their drugs again!

Well that’s about it for this journal entry.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day of Exploring - No Swell

Today was an awesome day! I spent the night at my friend Mar’s house last night with plans to show her some beaches she hasn’t had the time or energy to visit since moving to Vallarta almost 2 years ago. Its kind of sad really considering how accessible all of these beaches are and how close they are! Most people know that I try to encourage others to get out and explore their world around them. A lot of people complain that they do not have the money to go on vacation but they don’t know anything about the very world around them that I easily and cheaply accessible.

We took off to an unmentioned beach and when we arrived we were surprised to see the very small town packed out with Mexican tourists. This town and beach are not very big so it was super crowded and overall I don’t think she liked it. We sat in the sand and talked for a bit and then she wanted to go back to Rincon de Guayabitos, another beach town in the area. We headed out in the car back to the main highway when she mentioned offhand about going to San Blas, which I know a little. There is are several beautiful beaches on the way and Matanchen bay is just awesome with a great view of the sunset. I told her it was a bit of a drive, which it was and so we headed out through the country side. We had a great drive and when she saw the beach she was super excited. We caught an awesome sunset and are now back at her house where Im camping in my car out front. I thought I could write more about today but I just don’t feel like it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Closeout Sets!

I didn’t do very much today as I was slightly hung over in the morning from Tim and I’s trip to Sayluita the night before. We hung out with a bunch of people and met some cool people, including this crazy Chilean dude I met that probably cheerzed me like 50 times before the night was over. He just kept saying over and over, “Vive Chile!! Vive Houston!!!” hahahah, good times. We didn’t actually drink that much, it was just more of the late night and the 6pack we split of Bohemia Dark, and dark beer always hurts me the next morning.

When I finally woke up I decided I wouldn’t do much that day except for start a new book. I have been wanting to read this book by Scott Williams that I bought before I left. Its about his adventures kayaking through the Caribbean, literally crossing almost the whole thing in a 17ft sea kayak. It was very inspiring to say the least and when I say I couldn’t set it down, Im not lying. I read the whole damn book in one sitting! It really made me think about my future and what I would like my next set of dreams to be and now that I know its totally possible to cross through these areas on such a small craft, my ideas for a nice beachable 24ft catamaran might be doable.

I was heading to my friend’s house so we could go explore some beaches the next day and I decided that I HAD to get wet. I couldn’t spend the whole damn day just sitting in my van reading and resting right? I caught La Lancha right at sunset and I knew I had to make the most of the maybe 40 minutes remaining until sunset. I immediately started catching waves and working on a fear Ive been having lately in the water that cost me dearly the other day. I went to surf a very sketchy spot with a friend that I have been fearing for a while due to the rocks and reef in the line up. Even the paddle out can be a bitch but we made it out unscathed but I beefed it chasing a smaller wave to the inside and basically when right into the rocks. My problem is I have been fearing waves with super lined up walls thinking that they are about to pitch and closeout and catch me down on the inside. So that afternoon at La Lancha I started working on taking waves that looked like closeouts to me and tried racing the lips. I caught one that pitched so I told myself to shoot to the bottom and work around the closed section and sure enough it worked! I need to keep this up because these waves are usually the most fun anyways as they give a racy section to beat and surf up and down with long cutbacks after you make it. I surfed past sundown and thoroughly enjoyed the amazing sunset before I caught a huge closeout wave to the beach. I made it to Mar’s house where we hung out for a bit and crashed. And that’s the conclusion to that day!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More Great Surf and Car Troubles

Today I woke up on a mission to get in some surf so I took off around 10am to La Lancha with my longboard in tow. I didn’t make it very far before I realized I had left my board shorts back at the hotel as they were drying from a washing the previous day. I finally got back to the break and decided to gear up the camera and see if I could get some decent footage of some good drops and nice down the line surfing without all the whitewater washing over the tail of the board.

I got the camera mounted and secured and tied off its leash to my leash just in case it decides to go for a swim. The break was a little packed and there were a few boats out with students, my perfect type of surf. Even though it looks crowded, a close observation reveals that no one is really catching waves on their save for a few guys and the instructors. Perfect. I paddle out right into the thick of it getting some odd stares for the camera mounted on the tail end of my board but I held my ground. I got a wave pretty quickly but I fell off going backside. I took a few on the head but Im getting my turtle roll down pretty well and slowly letting go of my fear of being in decent size surf on a longboard. See, with a shortboard or a fish, which are normally what I ride, you can go down below the water when a breaking wave is in front of you. We call this move a “duckdive” after the ducks that do it so well in the ocean! Just watch them next time you have a chance, the birds will duck just in front of big waves and go right below them! A longboard is a totally different story. It is almost impossible to duckdive a longboard so surfers have come up with several other methods for not getting annihilated in breaking waves. Sometimes you can paddle through some of the whitewater but mostly we do a move called the “turtle-roll” and that’s pretty much what you do. You roll the board upside down with you below it under the water hanging on to the board. Your body effectively acts like an anchor and you can kind of hold your position. Today I learned to hang on a little in front of the board to force the nose down through the whitewater.

I got a few more good rides before I finally noticed my camera wasn’t taking video like it was supposed to because the batteries were dead. CRAP! I took a few more good waves and my last ride was basically what every surfer dreams of. I paddled in for a semi late drop and made it with a nice long bottom turn off the bottom and shot down the line. However La Lancha is easy to outrun so I had a nice long cutback to get back into the curl of the wave and here I did another long bottom turn and shot off the line again. I did another long cutback and really felt it this time. I extended my front leg to the max and forced the board with my back foot to turn back the other direction to the left and really cranked on it and boy was it fun! I did another good bottom turn and practiced my pumping Im learning off the bottom. Pumping is the way a surfer generates speed in slow or flat sections of the wave and it is a concept Im finally getting the hang of and its pretty fun too! I made a small cut back straight to let the wave catch up and I noticed Im nearing the beach rapidly. I watch the wave line up and get ready to explode into a close out so I turn back straight and laid down and rode the whitewater straight into the beach, terminating the ride in 1.5ft of water. I unleashed and walked up the sand and noticed these 3 guys sitting there with dumbfounded looks on their faces as I had just pulled off the move every surfer dreams of, to practically step off your board from a long good ride onto the beach. I was so damn happy about the ride I totally forgot about the camera batteries being dead but I really wish I would have gotten that one on video.

I went into Nuevo Vallarta to pick up a few things for Chica and me, namely dog food and rechargeable AAA batteries for my surfing camera. Then I grabbed a burger at Carls Jr. and it was pretty epic. I went over to Mar’s house and chatted with her for a bit and she seemed to be doing well. I haven’t talked to or seen her in over a week so I was wondering how she was doing. We talked for a while and she had to run to a quincenera, or a sweet 15 party so I headed back to Mita. I went over to Debo’s and chatted with her for a second and got invited to this new place just a couple of houses from her so I joined her and her friend Dianne and Alejandro. The food was pretty good and I spent my time talking with Alejandro and it wasn’t until the end of the meal that I finally figured out where I knew him from. Some weeks ago I was drunk with Paul and Mel and we were driving through the main street of Mita when we happened upon some friends drinking on the street corner so we bailed out, paid our mariachi friend to play some songs and drank with them in the street for a bit. Alejandro and I laughed about this for a while as we both remembered at once and it turns out I know his dad very well. He is the security for the place we have been camping for the past 4 years when we come here!

I then met up with Alvaro, a friend from the restaurant Si Senor. I told him the other day I would sell him my wettie (wetsuit) for a good price and I let it go for $400 pesos, about $35usd which is what I paid for it anyways. He is a spear fishermen and his suit was donated to him and its old and torn, letting in more and more of the cold pacific waters every day. I hope this new suit will be good for him and keep him warm. He’s a cool guy, down here working and looking for adventure from his native Argentina. II wish him all the best luck.

Tomorrow there is talk of possibly heading to the paradise beach north of here so we shall see how that goes. Dianne also knows a great welder (they call him Juan, the man of steel) so I will talk to him about mounting my water tanks under the van and maybe some type of freaking table on the door or something so I don’t have to cook on the floor anymore. Who knows… more adventure coming soon though. Mita is getting old and im getting an itching to hit the road so I will be headed south in a few days. Im also considering heading back to Florencia for a few days and having the guys take a look at my van because the gas mileage has totally gone to shit, like 11mpg shit. I replaced my fuel filter the other day and it was pretty clogged with black crap and Ill try resetting the computer for the engine just to make sure its not stuck on a high elevation fuel setting but I don’t have much faith it will work. Eh, just another day in paradise!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I made a promise to wake up early and surf with Neil and his girlfriend Laura today so I got my knock this morning at 8am, rise and shine. This doesn’t sound very early but it is the earliest I have had to be up in a long time so don’t judge me.

We hit La Lancha and I brought my fish as I was bound and determined to get back into some fun rippers Ive been having on that board. Well as it turns out, the ocean and La Lancha teamed up once again against me and had other plans. It was kind of small and the rides were short as observed from the beach and with the cold wind blowing and even colder water, I opted to sleep on the beach. I passed out for about an hour and it was a great nap sleeping on a log fashioned into a sitting bench and I actually got cold for a bit! The weather here has been very pleasant but a little chilly at times. Neil and Laura had a good session and that’s all that matters as they are flying out Friday morning. I have time so I wasn’t too worried about missing one session and trust me the nap was great. I cant imagine a better place to take a nap, sound of the waves, the surfers, barking dogs playing on the beach and the wind rustling through the trees. I laid there with a slight chill over my body from the brisk morning air and the wind and I let sleep overcome me and boy was it great!

We headed back to the hotel and they whipped up an awesome breakfast that could only be described as some sort of egg tortas (a scrambed egg sandwich with ham) and it was epic! I ran them over to Sayulita so Laura could sell her board. She ended up selling it to a shop, I think the same shop she bought it from for like $2500 pesos, about $200usd. We bummed around Sayulita for a little while and I fell asleep in a chair while they were shopping in a store. I guess it was just my day to sleep!

We came back and I pretty much went back to sleep for a little while. I met up with Debo and shared a beer with her. She put me on a mission to score some tortillas for dinner as she was whipping up some of the fresh tuna caught just a couple of days ago by some badass fishermen staying at Lisa’s place. These guys are nailing like 150lb yellowfin tuna with spear guns as they freedive to depths around 50ft and boy are they good. They have been nailing them nonstop and just giving all the meat away as they have no need for it and they are flying back to California in a few days. Anyways the tortillaria was closed down. This is a place where you go to get fresh corn tortillas and its dirt cheap, like 1lb of tortillas sets me back $5 pesos, about .50 cents. I swung by a good taco stand I know and saw the lady their making her tortillas by hand and I was able to purchase half a kilo (about 1lb) for double the price at $10 pesos, about .90cents. Debo created some amazing mixture of sautéed tuna with onions, tomatoes, jalepinos and bell pepers! It was incredible!!

I came home after that and watched a butt load of two and a half men, thanks again Mike! Then I passed out.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Debo is Back in Town!

Today I didn’t do much. I was supposed to go to Chacala with Mar but things didn’t work out. She never made plans with me and didn’t start txting me about it until noon and I pretty much blew that idea off. She then wanted me to come to the pool with her and have carne asada tacos but I didn’t feel like making the trek to Nuevo Vallarta today. I didn’t wake up until 11 because the swell was dropping and Sunday the beaches around here just get packed out so there is no sense in fighting 20 people in the water for small waves. I have more time than them anyways haha.

I got up and headed over to talk to my buddy Debo and to recharge my cell phone because I used all my credit. I hung out at her place and talked to her buddy all afternoon and had fun. He’s a cool guy and has been all over Mexico for the last 25 years or so and it was really cool talking Mexico history with him. Ahhh how this place must have been back then! Dirt roads to almost everywhere, no major coastal development! He even knew some of the places I have been in Guatemala and told me what they were like 20 years ago! We headed over to the restaurant Si Senor for a few beers and watched the surfers and boy was it packed! 15 people and a few stand up paddleboarders (SUPers) fighting for knee high waves and it didn’t look like much fun. We returned to Debo’s where I bid my goodbyes and finalized plans for dinner at 7.

I got back to my campsite in front of my favorite hotel and started working on the sanding phase of my surfboard repair. This is the longest and hardest phase and can really take a considerable amount of time to complete. My process is usually starting off with a rough grit like a 60 to get all the rough edges smoothed out and try and get it near level with the board. Now where I go from here depends on a few things like if I need to actually “reshape” parts of the board. Im still learning the arts of fiberglass work and Im not sure how actually “shape” with it. For instance I have a bad hole in my rail and even though its now glassed and protected, the rail of the board indents about ¼ of an inch. Normally I think most people would ignore this but I want the rail back to normal so I must add thickness using fiberglass, a semi runny material and its hard. Sometimes I will seal the hole with a layer of glass and goup on a bunch of suncure epoxy resin because it is very thick like paste and can add density to my hole I need to fill. So if all is well and its just a patch job, Ill smooth it out with either 60 or 80 grit. From here I step up to 120 and really work out all the scratches the 60 puts into the board. Ill usually sand in opposite directions or perpendicular to the scratches to try and work them out of the surface. From there Ill step up just for a second to 180 and then the final is a semi wetsand with 220 grit. This really brings the shine back into the board and u can hardly tell there was ever a repair job done there but it does require time to complete all these steps correctly. With the amount of repairs Im currently doing to the Fish, this could take several days counting in resin cure times! The good news is, the board will look great when Im finished and should be ready for another round of action. The only problem is the board has a blue bottom with like a magenta deck and I don’t have cloth or resin color so all my repairs are white and are very obvious despite the quality of the repair. Such is life..

I went to have dinner tonight with Debo, her friend and my buddy Neil I met the other day. We went back to the same place we ate last night because its super good and only open on Saturdays and Sundays. I had two beef quesadillas (18 pesos each) and 2 beers and it was perfect. We all thoroughly enjoyed our food and she dropped Neil and I back off at the hotel. I took a walk for a bottle of water and to check out the town dance that was going on but the dance was just coming to a conclusion by time I arrived. It looked like some type of local band practicing and they were actually pretty good! I love the Banda music! Banda is a type of music here in northern Mexico that usually has a whole array of instruments. Good strong beats, Tuba, Trumpets, Clarinets, trombones and flutes at times and it really is a treat to hear it live as it throws the listener into the heat of it. I just got back to the van where Im typing this right now and considering going to bed except that it is quite early! Maybe Ill watch some more Trailer Park Boys and call it a night.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Best Surfing Yet!

Today was the best damn day of surfing I have had in a long time. I woke up on a mission to make it happen even though I was a little late. I wanted to surf Burros and the rule is to get on it early before the crowds arrive, especially for a Saturday. I bought a bottle of orange juice and headed down the road but didn’t arrive there until 10am. The original plan was for 8:30am but hey, I was going to get some waves one way or another.

I saw Dave’s truck (the couple that own the hotel where Im camping) so I parked in front of him. I didn’t see many other vehicles and that was a good sign so I took off sprinting down the trail to the beach. Burros is a unique spot in that there is a damn resort just in front of the wave and many times hordes of gringos on vacation with surfboards will paddle out from the front of the hotel and just instantly crowd the wave, or insta-crowd as we say. It make me a little angry at times because I worked hard to get to these waves when these clowns flew in, taxied to the hotel and woke up and paddled out front. Just doesn’t seem right at times but hey, what can ya do?

The trail leading to Burros is one of the coolest I have ever walked on in Mexico and especially to get to a wave. It goes deep into the jungle following a small creek (arroyo in Spanish) and the sunlight is almost totally blocked at times from the thick palms overhead. I pity the hotel guests as they actually miss this quick hike through some of the coolest jungle in this area. I got through there as fast as I could and made it to the beach to find only around 7 people out. I talked to a guy on the beach who had a fish just like me and turns out he was a guest in the hotel where I was camping and rode down with Dave. The waves looked decent and there were some sizable sets coming through, around head high and clean… perfect!

I paddled out and let the line up take their turns on the next 2 sets of waves, after that it was my turn as is a common courtesy when first paddling out. You can be a rude asshole and paddle out and take the very first wave but it will not earn you much respect, in my book anyways. The first wave I took off on was a fast right and boy did I enjoy it! I raced along the wall for a minute before heading down into the flat to come back to the top of the wave. I made a big long carve and a small cut back to put me back into position as to not outrun the shoulder, or power section of the wave. If you shoot too far on the shoulder you will get into the parts of the wave that are still jacking up and they have less power, often ending your ride prematurely. The second wave I caught was perhaps my best with a nice racy section again and finally I smacked the lip on this fish. I went vertical and turned almost 180 degrees off the top lip and boom shot forward back towards the bottom of the wave with the speed of the pitching wave pushing me bottomward. My balance got a little wacked here because of the sudden rush of speed and after making a small bottom turn I fell backward off my board. My third wave was decent but my leash was wrapped around my back foot and I was actually standing on it while surfing, highly distracting me. The ride was good with 2 cutbacks to put myself back into position on the wave. The last ride was good enough to send me to the beach because I was just too happy at this point. This was some o the best surfing I have done in my short career and I was highly excited. Plus the sets were starting to become fewer and fewer with larger time frames in between so I called it a morning and went back to the hotel.

I started working on my fish which has been needing serious repair for a few months. I found a ton of things I need to fix and I started busting open crappy fiberglass and exposing the wet foam beneath and letting it dry. In all I found 6 major spots that needed some serious repair and Ive started on 4 of them. Two as of today are finished after much sanding and final touches but the others are going to require some more extensive work. Im a perfectionist of a sort when it comes to my board repair work and I will not call it complete until its damn near perfect. I don’t like uneven or rough finishes especially on the bottom of a board, after all if it was “ok” to have rough spots on the bottom then why would the shaper go through so much trouble to make sure the board was smooth as glass? Would it not interfere with the hydrodynamics of a planing surfboard if there were rough patches on the bottom? My guess is yes, it would interfere in little and possibly unnoticeable ways but it is only a tad more work to seek perfection and eliminate any doubt or wonder.

After the first layers of fiberglass were laid and curing I decided to go for an afternoon surf with Neil and his girlfriend Laura. They are from Utah and both have very interesting jobs/lives. They both work as river guides and in the winter Neil works ski patrol and Laura works as an ESL teacher, how cool is that? They are great people and have been exploring the Mexican coastline via bus for the last month and a half and actually ran into the Israeli guy that was with me a few weeks ago! Dave gave us all a ride to Anclote, the surf point right in front of Punta Mita. I haven’t seen this wave ever work as much as it has been since I got here. Every day is at least knee high and loggable if you want to get wet. Today it was about knee to thigh with occasional sets in the waist high range and boy was it fun! We started snagging long rides one after another and at one point an old guy tried to drop in on me but I fended him off with my hands. I talked to the guy who was with him and later found out that he was just learning to surf and tonight was his last night in Mita and the guy with whom I was talking to was his guide. So I told him Id back off and let him take his share of waves seeing as it could be his last time for a long time. I even blocked a bunch of people and made sure he got his ride of the day which he took all the way to the beach! It was cool seeing someone so stoked even at his age to be riding waves. I got a few more rides and then finally I took my last ride which was a waist high peeler. I took this wave to the maximum and almost ran into the jetti! I had so many nice little cutbacks and fast sections that I fell in love with surfing all over again. Ahhh… the art of wave riding, especially on a longboard. Right when I thought my day could not get any better from my session that morning I totally blew the day away with my afternoon session.

We walked back to the hotel and we all showered and headed out for some great tacos, quesadillas and a few beers. We concluded the night in their room watching a few of the surf movies I brought along on my trip and over all it was a great day!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Time to Clean Up!

I woke up this morning at my friend Mar’s house in Nuevo Vallarta and I knew that it was time to get out of there. I have been staying on her couch for the past 3 days and I felt like I was intruding a tad even though she assured me I could stay as long as I wanted. Ive been getting tired of the drive to surf from her house which is about 40 minutes through the mountains and it eats the gas in the van so here I am, back in Punta Mita camped out on the street in front of my friend’s hotel.

I have been trying to clean up for the past couple of days and just live healthier overall. I needed to take a break from beer and all that mess so I’m going to go a week or two with nothing and find some clarity in my mind and get back on track. I’ve noticed that I’m increasingly getting lost about what Im doing down here overall. I used to have a mission and now I just feel a little lost. I don’t want to return to a work based society yet but I need to find some form of a project or something. Im not really sure what is wrong, just a slump I guess. Ive had these before where I just kind of drop out but they usually don’t last that long. Ill fight through this and get my head back in the game.

I surfed out at La Lancha today and it was just a crapshoot. There were some big waves coming through and frankly I was pretty nervous. It has been awhile since I have been in surf with any size to it and La Lancha was definitely pumping them out. Just massive walls of messy waves coming through all disorganized and La Lancha doing what it does best, shift all over the place. I took my first wave which was kind of a late drop and I saw the wall pitching so I quickly shot to the top and tried out make it out but got sucked under and had a bit of a spill. It shook me up a little and I spent the next hour dodging a little. I set up perfectly for a few good ones but usually I got beat to them as the non closing out lines were not very common. Everyone took a wave in and I found myself alone out there to face my fears and I was a little unnerved. Big surf can be a but nerve racking but its always better to share the fear with fellow surfers. Here I was alone and waves were coming in sets, seemingly stacked to the horizon. That’s when you paddle your ass off and try and get out of the impact zone. I made it through a few sets before I worked my way back in a little to try and pick off some of the smaller waves on the inside. I took one which turned out to be an elevator drop and I missed the bottom turn and pretty much shot straight while the whole thing collapsed on my head as I fell off the back of the board. I only made one more wave and I got killed on that one too and that’s when I decided to call it quits for La Lancha for the day.

There was a strong longshore current running with all the water moving around and especially with the waves angling out of the west. I was being dragged rapidly toward a rocky patch when I noticed a Canadian couple I met the other day paddling just inside me. The wife took a ride inside and I got a chance to have a word with the husband when I noticed a large wave angling down on us. I raced for the outside and made it over the top just in time to turn around and see that 6ft wall of water collapse on his head. Boom! I watched him be dragged under water for a little ways before resurfacing and he caught a small wave to the beach. I gave up paddling against the current and instead turned with it and very swiftly cleared the rocky area when I bellied in (rode a wave staying on my stomach on the board) to the beach. Phew! What a day!

I drove into Mita and bought a loaf of bread and a coke and headed to my camp site to make PP&J sandwiches. I had 2, finished my coke and then pretty much passed out from exhaustion. I just woke up around 630pm and talked with the hotel owner a bit and about some other surf spots around here that work better with the large NW we have filling in. Im going to try Burros in the morning and maybe Anclote in the afternoon, but we shall see how all that pans out.

My friend Debo is coming in tomorrow after driving in from Texas. She stopped in San Miguel de Allende for a few days and she should be arriving some time tomorrow. Im glad she came back down because a few weeks ago she was thinking about returning to Texas for awhile to work and let Mexico cool down. I think she made a great decision and hopefully it will work out for her when she reopens her restaurant in a few weeks. Tourist season is here and its starting to pick up a little which is good because it was a really slow summer with all the travel advisories and the bad press Mexico has been getting lately. Its weird though because Ive been noticing a pattern in the vehicles Ive been seeing. It seems only people from California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Canada are coming in. I have one of the only Texas plates I have seen and Im one of the only Texas I have met up until this point. I don’t feel like getting into a big social rant right now so Ill leave that alone. Im sure someone will leave a smartass comment about it though.

It has been a little lonely and quiet with Joe and Paul both gone. I have been hanging out with Mar and she has been a great help in talking to me about my crazy problems Ive been having lately with anxiety and general paranoia. I read about some breathing techniques on the net that Im going to start trying the next time I feel it kicking in. Its something I have been struggling with ever since I got down here and I don’t understand it. I have never really had a form of mental illness (that I knew about haha) that I’ve had to deal with and confront on an almost day to day basis. It has been taking a toll on me mentally but I think Im starting to get a grip on it and control it. We shall see anyways.

My plan right now is to hang out a few more days and see what happens with the surf. I would like to go south but its just so good here right now with size I don’t see a reason to pull out just yet. Maybe Im avoiding the inevitable of facing my fear of driving through Michoacan and Guerrero but honestly the surf is just too good. I really want to hit south Jalisco and explore Bahia Tenacatita and Chamela as I have scouted some awesome looking camping sites using aerial photographs. Ok, Im off to read a book before calling it a night.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Surf and a Trip to Vallarta

We woke up with a mission to get wet after being skunked up north even though we knew it was hardly worth but we were men on a mission. Joe whipped up some great scrambled eggs and we had egg tacos with some great salsa before loading up the van. When we hit the parking area for La Lancha I was extremely discouraged by the sheer number of vehicles I saw there and couple that with a dropping swell and you get pure drop in madness. A drop in is when a surfer drops into a wave another surfer is already riding and committed to, thus cutting him off and possibly creating somewhat of a dangerous situation. A drop in, snaking or whatever you want to call it is extremely rude and in some places in the world it will quickly get you a beat down back on the beach.

When we hit the beach it was packed. There must have been 20 surfers in the water fighting it out for waist high slop and I could tell the attitude would be aggressive especially with us three just showing up. The bad part of La Lancha is that you can see all the surfers coming in so sometimes its hard not to get a bad attitude. We paddled out and fought other surfers for the inside and next thing I know, only Joe and I are catching waves! Everyone else was fighting for the very rare “big set” that would come through so that left us on the inside with a few others to take our pick. The rides were fast and short but hey we were catching waves so I cannot complain. Then a pack of 12 surfers on longboards show up. Basically with a longboard, they can catch the smallest of small waves before any shorter boards can enter as we need a steeper entry to catch the wave. Shit….

They hit the water and immediately I figure out they are total beginners which changes things. Its pretty rude for beginning surfers to paddle out and crowd a good wave so I was not cutting them any slack. I motioned for Joe that it was game on and drop ins and blocks were going to be legal and he agreed. I started putting myself into positions right in the middle of them to make them nervous and I took my share of waves with no reguard to them. It may sound very rude and well, it is but we have all started somewhere and I started at the crappiest breaks until I could handle myself in the water. Every surfer knows the dangers of large fiberglass boards with razor sharp fins, especially a LONGBOARD (read 9ft boards) in the hands of a beginner. Someone is begging to be injured! So in exchange for their rudeness and totally obliviousness to the danger they were creating, I became an asshole and took what I wanted from them. In my defense, beginners are usually so happy they are in the water on the board “looking the part” they don’t even know what I was doing was rude and breaking all the major etiquette. The best was the blocking though, purpose diagonal paddling down in front of them into a wave so they are obligated to stop paddling or risk a collision.

Finally I calmed down a little and talked to them. One of the guys tried to drop in on a good Mexican surfer and that’s where I became vocal. “hey dude, I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Dropping in on a Mexican local who is riding a 12ft Stand Up Paddle board (SUP) with a 6ft paddle in his hand? He’ll bash your brains in on the beach dude”. His reply was “ohh no, I was just paddling for nothing”. Right.. jackass. It became even more crowded and we were happy so we got out and headed into Puerto Vallarta for adventure and some great tacos I found in Mismaloya. I had been telling this guys for several days about this place and it was basically a 2 hour drive to get there but man was it worth it!

If you find yourself visiting Vallarta and you make your way to Mismaloya, stop right in the small town off the road to your left, heading up to Eden canopy tours. The place is called “Juan and Only” which I find hilarious and the tacos will leave your mouth drooling. A fish taco there is only 12 pesos, about 1.10usd which is NOTHING and I promise, they are some of the best tacos I have ever had in this country.

After the tacos we headed back into Old Vallarta because its much more beautiful than all that modern hotel tourist shit with Starbucks, Home Depot and Outback Steakhouse. We wondered around for a little while and finally found ourselves on the malecon or seawall in English. We watched a typical Indian dance where they swing from a tall pole by their feet while one gay stays atop and plays the flute and a small drum. I have seen it once when I was 15 and in Tulum Mexico with my dad so it was nice to see it again. Joe and Paul were pretty blown away so it was cool to show them a cultural experience from Mexico. We checked out the Huichol (pronounced WE-chole) art store and that was awesome. They are a major group of Indians that used to inhabit the coast line until farmers, government and hotels drove them into the mountains and out of their lands. Now they live deep in the Sierra Madre in several states and their land is somewhat protected. The story of every indigenous culture, we will take your shit if it is worth some money. Sad Sad story of the world but what can you do? Their culture places major importance on the use of Peyote to talk to their Gods and to help guide themselves and their peoples. They make amaaaazing artwork all based on their visions and its extremely cool.

We left Vallarta and swung into Walmart which was packed for Halloween and Day of the Dead (dia de los muertos) celebrations but we just needed a few items and got the heck out and got back to our hotel. It was a pretty cool day and a great adventure. Joe’s time is running out and Im sad to see him go and I imagine he is feeling the same. I hope that he has had a good time down here and things will get better for him when he returns home. Now is the time to think about my next plan of action, stay and ride this swell to the max or head south. Im leaning hard on staying for a few more days, as the guru Allan Weisbecker said, never drive away from good surf.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Went North... Now Back in Mita

Joe, Paul and I headed north back on Tuesday to go look for waves and explore some of the northern areas of Mexico that I haven’t had the chance to see yet. We set out from Punta de Mita and stopped in on several spots like San Pancho, Santa Cruz, Aticama and Matanchen Bay. We checked out some spots for waves and really didn’t find anything working especially with the onshore winds we were having.

The first day was pretty cool as the drive was incredibly beautiful. We headed off into the mountains and soaring jungles that is the state of Nayarit. We noticed even more damage from the heavy rains that nailed this area about a month and a half ago. Bridges out, roads dilapidated and many landslides that were recently cleared plagued our drive north but we enjoyed every second of the fresh and beautifully green landscape. In Matanchen bay we found a place to stay for the night for a reasonable price and we set out to explore the long beach. This beach stretches almost to the horizon and reminded me a little of our beaches back in Texas with the hard packed sand and ability to drive down them without worry. We returned to Aticama for some supplies and hit the beach for sunset and our dinner which was tuna and avocado sandwiches. We hung out there for as long as we could until the jejenes (sand fleas) started tearing us a new one which we expected because this place has a long standing tradition of a horrible sand flee population.

That night we sat down and had a few beers with the guys running the place. I was pretty uncomfortable because the guy was some type of East LA gang member or something but he was sociable and generally pretty cool. Some of his questions seemed a little suspicious but I played them off with lies or general misdirection. Joe helped a good deal by firing back with some of the same questions to ease some of the tensions and in general everything was ok. My anxiety is getting out of control at times and frankly its really starting to ruin my trip. Ill talk more about this later…

The next day we headed back south to a beach town we stopped at because it is seriously one of the most beautiful beach towns I have ever seen in my life. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides and there is only 1 road in and 1 road out. The beach is a beautiful color with soft grains of sand and the waves are pretty gentle, breaking in a fun body surfing shore break in one big closeout. The mountains are lush with jungle and orchards of various types and the town is shaded by high growing coconut palms that stretch out onto the beach and they blow gently in the wind. The town was small and the people are nice enough. It has a tourist feel but not the aggressiveness that plagues so many small Mexican beach communities and that makes it very peaceful and quiet. The vibe overall and from the people I talked to, they like their community small and don’t want heavy tourism, hence my restrain of mentioning the name. Just do some homework on the area and you can find it on your own, just like we did.

Joe and Paul (the Australian guy traveling with us) got a room and I parked on the side of the hotel and slept in the car. The first night we found a fantastic taco place, albeit a little pricey but the food was good and we got to watch the Baseball World Series and Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul in Mexican soccer. The next day we took a hike out to the point so we could fish. Paul had a fishing pole and I was going to share my snorkel gear and Hawaiian sling with Joe. The rocks and reef were beautiful and just bountiful with fish but I don’t know anything about which fish I can eat and which I cannot. I didn’t shoot anything because I didn’t see anything that I knew for certain was edible and of decent size. Joe went around for a bit and had the same conclusion. Paul’s turn came up and he was out for a bit then finally I see him snag something. He shot a large angel fish and we told him you cannot eat those and basically you murdered a beautiful reef fish but we were laughing and joking with him. He felt bad enough so only killing one fish isn’t too bad right? We got back to town and talked to some guys and they said NO! You can eat those!!! I showed them the picture of the fish and they confirmed that yes they are very tender and make great ceviche! DAMN! That day we just hung out on the beach some more and in general just lounged around. Paul got to see a fight on the street involving the owner of the taco place we ate at and some other guy, crazy stuff. That night we returned to the taco place and enjoyed the fantastic yet expensive tacos. We talked to the owner a bit and he was very drunk and riled up about the fight still. All of a sudden the guy he fought with shows back up to either make amends or fight again, we still are not quite sure. The owner goes sprinting out of the place to meet the guy in the street and I notice hes holding a large butcher knife in his hand and a very large brick in the other. Crap, this is going to get messy! I start thinking of the logistics of the place and basically the nearest police are almost 10 miles away through a long winding road in the mountains and that’s not good if this turns into a shootout at OK Corral. We pay our checks quickly and get the **** outa there. By then the fight had calmed down a tad but tensions were still high and with the owner sensing us being uncomfortable he quickly calmed down and put down the knife. We hung out on the beach and enjoyed a few beers and then we decided to call it a night.

Upon walking back through the madness, Paul noticed a family all sitting around a car with the hood up. He calls me over and I start talking to the guy who owned the car. He tells me he has no power in any gear and the car just sits there, like the transmission is slipping. I start checking under the hood and notice a large amount of transmission fluid that has leaked or literally been slung out. Hrmm, Im thinking and I know manual transmissions just usually don’t “give up the ghost” like this but listening to it in gear and watching it sit there motionless I was starting to be convinced that they had a heck of a problem on their hands. I keep thinking about the problem so I decide to check his axles and sure enough, it see the drive cv axle wobbling while the car is in gear. Bingo! I quickly jack the car up and remove the driver side front wheel. I climb underneath in the sand and start working to re-engage the drive axle. I work it from side to side pushing as there are splines you have to make match up correctly. Finally it slipped in and locked! We threw the wheel back on and lowered the car and whammo they had their car back! I jacked it up again and explained to the guy how I fixed it and told him this is not very common and should not happen. There are locking slip rings to hold the axle into the transmission and he should have it checked out as soon as he returned to Guadalajara. He understood everything and they thanked us profusely and then asked “How much for the work?”. When I told them nothing, “gratis” the look on their faces was indescribable. How and why had these 3 gringos just come to their rescue and for free?? That NEVER happens right? Well it just did my friends!

Joe and I followed them out of the mountains and back to the main highway where there is a large town just in case they broke down again. From there they decided to push on to Guadalajara and they said their goodbyes and thanks to us and again just totally astounded at what just happened. We were all running on a high of good deeds because neither Joe, Paul nor I could fully understand what just happened either! What a great feeling!!! I have been looking for ways to give back to a country and a people that have given so much to me and last night I was able to do just that.

Today we came back to Punta de Mita to try and get in a better swell window for what little southern swell is left in the water. There is a large north west swell arriving soon, I just have to be patient. I have been feeling shitty about this trip for a few days but I think I just need a change of scenery. I need to be alone again so I can think about my life and this trip and just slow things down a tad. My van is a wreck because we are constantly moving so there is dirt and disorganization all over the place. My anxiety has been off the charts lately too but I think that is just something Im going to have to learn how to control. I start thinking about all the bad shit that can happen to me down here and next thing I know Ive worked myself into a full blown panic. This is something Ive never dealt with and since I don’t believe in medication, its difficult. I have to control myself and bring myself back down to reality, a reality that these people are NOT trying to kill me and not every cop is looking to bust me for something Im not doing. One of the few things that makes me calm down is that I know I have enough money to buy myself out of a crazy situation if I were to get in one somehow. I have to control this because it is controlling me at times and I don’t like it. Maybe I should find a bilingual psychiatrist or something because quitting on my dreams is something that really bothers me. Although I have been thinking about many other places I would love to go and I wonder why Im down here putting myself through this, especially when there is little to no surf.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Heading North..

Life has been a little hectic lately but its finally calming down. Birthday celebrations, meeting old friends and surfing. Joe is here with me and we have been sharing a room with this cool Aussie guy named Paul. He is a classic Australian and just lives to the max. If you have ever met Australians or hung out with them then you know what I mean, its never a dull moment. The best part is when we get him rolling with all of his crazy lingo and aussie words for things, basically non stop laughter.

We have enjoyed our time here in Punta de Mita but we are getting a little hungry for some waves. Don’t get me wrong, there has been decent surf every day but its not the best and it can get a little crowded at times. Im interested to explore north and surf some places I haven’t been yet and we have a decent size NW swell headed towards us. For all of my non surfing readers, the waves we ride are generated by wind and they form into groups and head towards somewhere in the world in the form of swell. Now, swell can be generated purely by a constantly blowing wind, like Texas, or from a large storm system somewhere else, which is what we really want. So during the summer months, large storm systems and cyclones in the pacific generate huge swell and it radiates outward for thousands of miles to a distant waiting coastline and its surfers, throw a rock in a still pond and you see the same effect. So right now we are approaching winter and this is the time large storm systems in the northern Atlantic kick up the waves and send them here, in the form of big West and North West swell.

Im pretty excited about the upcoming surf and it will be good to get back in the water a bit, Ive been drying out. I caught La Lancha the other day (a local surf spot which I have a serious love hate relationship with) and it was good. Joe and I paddled out but it was super crowded so we stayed over on the right side which people usually are not too interested in as they are fighting for the peak of the waves. I let Joe ride my fish and I rode the longboard and we both caught a few waves and called it a day. My last ride was going to be hard to beat so after a few bad waves I just paddled in. My last wave was great as I got an early entry and had a long face to carve on. Im still learning about the longboard (we never finish learning) and Im learning on how to get the best trip so I can walk to the nose. Well the wave walled up just as it was about to pitch in its final blast and this is usually when the surfer will exit the wave or make one last maneuver. I decided to do a suicidal walk to the nose and take my beating which I did. The wave shutdown on me and due to my proximity to the beach I went straight into the sand but boy was it worth it!

Ive been debating about a lot of things lately like heading south and all that mess. Im running solo down here and right now Mexico is having a few security problems. Its safe more or less but traveling solo sometimes can put you in situation, or maybe its just my stupid fear. The fear I have this time is still in slight control of me at times but Im learning to live around it and flat out tell it go away! I mean, its good to be precautious but living afraid is just ridiculous. Ive been thinking about changing the trip up a little and trying some new things and new places. I mean basically Ive been all over Mexico already and while I love this country, some of this is a little redundant. My friends in Monterrey are all flying to Chile to visit a mutual friend in December and Ive been contemplating joining them even though it will blow my budget by about 2,000 dollars. Im learning not to worry about the money as much, Im traveling and having fun and chanding up the plan or idea is not always a bad thing. Ive also been putting more and more thought into Australia and some other places but these are just thoughts. Im still playing it by ear so we shall see how it goes. That’s all for now…

Monday, October 18, 2010


I woke up this morning with a fantastic feeling inside of me. It was Monday morning, nice and cool inside the van and to think I didn’t have to get up at 7am to get ready to commute to work. I did have work to do today but its work that one could hardly consider to be difficult. I decided to get out of bed around 9am and head into Nuevo Vallarta. I swung by a Telcel store to try and figure out why my cell burns through $10usd in credit in 2 days and basically it is because my cell is from Monterrey and Im roaming. I asked about national plans or deals and basically they told me to buy a chip ( a new number) for every place I stay.

In Bucerias I stopped at the Telcel store to inquire about chips and all that mess and I bought a new number/sim card for $10usd. The problem is activating it and now Im kind of stuck. In Mexico now you have to activate your sim cards through the government as they are trying to crack down on crime using anonymous prepaid cards or infringe on freedom, take your pick. The guy registered my phone in his buddies name because I don’t live here and I cannot register in my name. It was supposed to take only 10 minutes, that was 10 hours ago and Im still waiting.

I went to an internet café and took care of some business like canceling my cell phone and paying my final cell bill of $430usd because I used it here in Mexico. Damn they love to rape you don’t they? After that I headed to a Walmart and did some shopping for me and Chica (my dog). I got her some food and some much needed treats and I got myself some lunch. I grabbed a few cans of tuna, a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly and Valentina hot sauce. This is pretty much what Ill be existing on for the next few days to save some cash.

I headed to a fabrication shop after that in Mezcales to try and inquire about moving my water tanks under the van so I can have more room. The head guy for the shop was not in so I headed back to Mita to start putting my door back together and clean everything in the van. I worked in the sun for about 2 hours and did quite a bit. I put the door back together, cleaned and cut a custom length of chain for one of my spare tires and got it secured. After that I took a walk to find my friend Debo who just arrived back from Texas.

I drove Debo around a bit and helped her get back into a car and other such things. Then I met my friend Mar and I took her to my favorite surf spot, La Lancha and showed her around. She is just learning to surf and is still learning all of the complicated things most surfers take for granted like knowledge of swell and waves and wind. We watched all the surfers shred for a little while and then watched the awesome sunset over Bahia de Banderas and Punta de Mita. We returned back to Mita and she dropped me off so I could join Debo and her friend for drinks which I highly enjoyed.

So here I am back in the van en el otro lado, the other side… of mita. I met some more cool people at my favorite (but expensive) bar and they are all a cool bunch, maybe tomorrow night we will all go for beers after work. I will help Debo tomorrow morning with moving some furniture and after that, who knows. Im thinking of heading to Yelapa with Mar cause neither of us have ever been! We shall see!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dropped Dad Off...

Today started off pretty sad for me because I had to take my Dad back to the airport so he could fly back home. Back into the grind, back to work and back to reality. We spent an awesome week together surfing, exploring and just hanging out. I got to show him a very cool and beautiful place in Mexico and I got to show him a little of the life that I love so much down here and I hope that maybe now he understands me a little more.

Dropping him off this morning I was filled with sadness and yet there was a twinge of excitement to be back on my own once again. Truthfully I will only be “on my own” for 24 hours as a good friend of mine who lives here in Punta de Mita will be arriving tomorrow and my buddy Joe will be here in 5 more days. Still, my father will be missed and Im happy he was able to come and share this with me.

Driving back to Punta de Mita from Vallarta I stopped at Walmart to try and get some wheel locks for my rims. These are something I should have purchased awhile back but totally forgot and now Im scrambling to get my wheels secured. I bought a set and tried them on the car in the parking lot only to find they were too small. I returned them and searched the others for the right size using one of my lug nuts as a guide but I wasn’t able to find anything. I will check some rim and tire shops tomorrow as today is Sunday and everything is closed.

I stopped by a restaurant where some friends work and talked with them for a bit. One of the guys working there, Alvaro is from Argentina and we got on the topic of spear fishing with snorkel gear. He told me how the other morning he snagged a 4lb fish off the reef out front with his Hawaiian sling. I got inspired and quickly grabbed my gear and ran to the beach. He gave me an overview of the reef under water and what route is usually the best to swim back and forth and a few special features to check like under water crags and overhangs. I donned my gear and waded out into the surf and started methodically checking the rocks next to the jetty. I saw a huge array of reef fish but nothing I thought was worth shooting especially for food. I checked all over the place but I just couldnt find anything worth taking its life for food. I saw all kinds of reef fish though, eels, ribbon fish, puffer fish and a huge array of the colorful little guys you see in aquariums.

I finally got into a school of fish I thought were worth shooting at and I believed to be edible. I fired a few times with the new technique Alvaro showed me and I was missing badly. I finally saw a good looking fish, sighted in and BOOM, I had him! I pinned him to the sea floor as my sling does not have barbs and often a fish can fight there way off of the spear tip. I felt the fish fighting to free himself and the spear jerked in my hands. I could feel every movement me made as he desperately tried to save himself but I held fast and kept him pinned to the floor. Alvaro dives with a knife to finish the fish off that he catches so I was unsure what to do at this point so I tried to surface with him and he got off! He was swimming very crooked and I shot again and nailed him, this time dealing the card of death to him. I felt amazed at my feat and yet saddened when I surfaced with him to learn my first lesson of spear fishing. My mask had increased his size in the water by easily 40%, so my fish was a baby of about 6 to 7 inches… not even a pound I bet. I killed this poor fish for nothing but it was a vital lesson of this new form of fishing.

I kept hunting for another but I found only one and I made sure he was of accurate size. I found this guy swimming along lazily and he was about 3 or 4 times the size of the last fish I had shot! I dove under and pulled my sling tight in my hand, rubber band stretched to the max. I held it out in front of me like a rifle and I slowly eased towards him. For the first time I could I feel the rush of the kill taking over me. I could feel my heart beating rapidly and I noticed my senses all numbing down to what was essential for that moment. I was a hunter and this was my prey. I eased in for the shot and he turned and swam and I gave pursuit but my lungs were beginning to burn and my body cried for oxygen so I resurfaced for a breath, dove hard and never found him again.

I just woke from a great nap and now I must go hunt for a cheap dinner as I cannot afford to spend too much money and in Mita that’s very easy to do. The average plate here in this town at a restaurant will set you back at least $14usd and I cannot justify that. Im waiting for a few taco stands to open or I will goto plan B and just eat some fruit tonight until I can get to a store and pick up a few items to live on. Im reworking the van at the moment and Im getting some ideas for better storage by moving the water tanks under the van and secured to the frame. Ill have to have some mounts built but it shouldn’t be too bad. The van is just to cluttered for me right now and I hate the way it is. Its very difficult to move around and stay organized and clean at the same time. On another note, when I picked up my dad my passenger side window got stuck all the way down and the motor refused to operate anymore. I quickly disassembled the door and tested the electrical connections to the motor and it showed I had a solid 12volts all the way to the motor. The next morning I went to a window and windshield shop and a kid of about 17 years old worked fast to repair my window. The motor was fine but the window was jammed, hence why the motor refused to do anything. He realigned the window and reassembled the internal raising mechanism for a total cost of $13usd. They quoted me $75usd to have both doors converted back to manual if I get tired of the electrical crap. I love Mexico!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Back in Monterrey...

I was finally able to escape the horrible and paralyzing grip of the paradise that is known as Florencia. I took flight early thursday morning last week and I made it to Monterrey after 10 hours of long hard driving through semi arid desert and mountains. The van ran great the whole way and I hope I dont have any more problems from it for awhile.

A breakdown of the total costs...

Total in USD $1300

This includes the cost of labor at $5000 pesos, rebuilding the transmission $8000 pesos, new axle on passenger side, new axle bearings, repacked front wheel bearings, new brakes, change motor oil, change diff fluid, new transmission fluid.

That would have easily cost me $3000 USD back in the states.

So now Im back in Monterrey and hanging out with my friends and just learning to live around some of the violence here. Im learning to be like them, you just turn your head and look the other way. There have een several attacks since I have been here but nothing I saw or heard. Only one attack I passed on the main avenue on the way to my friends house about 15 or 20 minutes after it went down.

I went to my first real Mexican soccer game the other day and that was awesome! I went to a Rayados game, which the fans are rabid and super patriotic to their team. I was with my friend Salas and we were sitting in his seats for his season tickets, on the elevated deck. One of the seating sections to my left and down low is where all the super cheap seats are and Im talking CHEAP. Like $2 cheap. Beers in the stadium where at a horrible price of $2.50 a pop (easy $8 to $10 in Houston) and we didnt even have to pay up front, the guy in our section was just handing them out! I asked my friend and he said I have been sitting here for 3 years, he knows me and everyone in this section... we will settle at the end of the game, which we did when he asked how many beers we had. He didnt even know!!! The cheaper seats were a crazy band of mosh pits and singing for the ENTIRE game, and Im talking loud. They were singing songs about the visiting teams goalie, our team, all kinds of stuff with big drums and loud cymbols. I give these guys a super A+ for effort and spirit and Im talking 90 minutes of non stop singing (read yelling) and jumping and going insane.

I have been getting more brave and driving a little in Monterrey in my car and trying to learn the city. I met a really cool guy who is the neighbor of Adriana. His name is Oliver and he speaks english almost perfectly and studied at UT in Austin Texas where he finished with a bachelor in socialogy. He is an incredibly smart guy and runs his own business creating amazing tshirts with art, I think the name is Arte en Movil (Art in Movement).

Last night I faced some of my fears and took a taxi at night by myself to where Adriana works. Ive wanted to see it for quite awhile and last night was as good as any. She works for one of the large media corporations here in Monterrey and edits all the news with some pictures and videos for their websites. So I got to see all of the reporters, the media studios (even saw a live broadcast of a debate show) and their editing, news and radio sections. It was very cool and I really enjoyed it. I was a little nervous being there because the media is under constant attack and threats here in Monterrey and it wasnt too long ago that they threw a grenade into the building where she works.

After the tour we grabbed a taxi to downtown to meet her family for dinner for their customary sunday night dinner at restaraunt "AL". Now there are several funny stories behind this classic little place in downtown Monterrey. This restaraunt is pretty old, around 70 years which is pretty good for a restaraunt and it resembles something I think I would see in New York or some older city. All white classic tile and the building is shaped very long and narrow. Her family has been coming to "AL" for sunday night dinner for over 50years!!!!! Her grandmother and grandfather used to go there when they were just dating!

Now the funny stories about this place. AL in spanish means "to the". So when you say in spanish that you are going to this place, you say "Yo voy al AL"..... al AL. Or literally, to the to the. The name actually comes from the other funny story. It used to be called "Alaska" but after a big storm many many years ago, half of the sign was blown down and all that remained was "AL". So it was much easier (funnier?) to rename the restaraunt which is exactly what they did. I thought that story was one of the most "mexican" stories I have ever heard and I really enjoyed learning it.

Anyways, I gotta get my butt to bed. Im going to try and start running again and tomorrow might be my start. Ugh... who starts an excersize routine on their vacation?????

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Im Loosing My Mind... In Mexico

Well, paradise is taking its effect on me slowly and Ive noticed that my mind is starting to go wild. Too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing and that is exactly what is happening.

Boredom is starting to rear its ugly head and Im getting an itch to get on the move. The only problem is, the van is still in pieces. I had them check and work on all the basic maintinence which God only knows the last time it was done. They changed the breaks, repacked wheel bearings and checked the rear end and whammo we ran into problems. Upon checking the passenger side axle, they noticed it was leaking differential fluid through a faulty bearing. After a closer inspection the axle was also damaged and had been scored significantly from this faulty bearing so they went to Guadalajara for parts. Well the axle that came back was slightly different, maybe for a 1ton van/truck. It will work but they are determined to return my van to close to original as possible, so they are heading back to Guadalajara tomorrow to exchange the axle.

Yesterday I had a cool adventure all day though. I was super bored so I headed over to a friends restaraunt for a beer and chit chat. He has a big yard in the back and was mowing the whole thing with a weed-eater, so I helped with that process and I learned that it is very difficult to mow with a weedeater and make it all level, basically impossible.

The next adventure was a little later in the afternoon. Isidro, the husband of the family Im living with (also my main mechanic, along with his brother Pedro... all brothers of Medardo who I know from Texas) is building a house on the outside of town. The Mexican process at times to is build a little by little, until you can get all the money. Sometimes you will see 3/4 completed houses, missing furnishings and windows... waiting on money to come. Anyways, the project was to pour some concrete for the cistern. His cistern sits down in the ground and we had to pour concrete along the sides to keep it from shifting later.. eventually the sides will be higher than the tank and a lid will be put on to seal everything. So I learned how to mix concrete the hard way, or the Mexican way if you will. We cleared some ground and starting loading sand into the wheelbarrow. 3.5 loads... then we mixed the bag of cement into the sand, constantly  shoveling to get the proper mix.. moving the pile from side to side. Added a ton of water and mixed more... and we had concrete. We made 2 bags worth, so 7 loads of sand... tons of shoveling and moving buckets. It was quite an adventure and I actually liked it. I imaged that I was pouring the concrete for my own little casa here in Mexico, a nice day dream but I quickly put an end to that as it is dangerous for the roaming tribe in which I belong.

Today Im finding that Im getting angry.. angry at stupid things. This is a small town and sometimes I cannot get to the internet cafes because they are closed for random siestas. There is only 1 cafe in town which has the machines and the proper versions of internet explorer to chat and work efficiently on facebook to get messages out and he is closed all the time! Im also getting angry at spanish, I dont want to speak it or understand it. Its a phase I go through when Im down here on long trips and it will pass. I believe it has something to do with my mind just being overloaded with all of this stuff, new culture, false deadlines, spanish, new foods... crap where is the closest bathroom I have 30 seconds. Its been fun... but its starting to feel like a Tom Petty song, Im getting tired of this town. Ready to move on....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Vanny, Florencia and all that is Mexico

I got some new about my transmission yesterday afternoon when Pedro returned from neigboring Tlaltenango (sp?) and told me they decided it repair my transmission instead of swapping for a different one. They talked extensively about my trip and what my needs will be so they are putting some extra effort and parts into this one. The cost should be around $700 to $800 for the rebuild and right now they are quoting $150 for labor because I am a friend of the family. I will pay more for labor than this because indeed I am a friend but I want to help them as well. The transmission "might" be done today, but in Mexico that usually means tomorrow. They have a saying in spanish, mañana mañana, or tomorrows tomorrow.

Yesterday I was talking with the owner of the restaraunt and we were talking about my problem of paying for all of the work to the van at once. See I can only withdraw $300usd each day, so I need like 4 days to get all the damn money without going through some complicated scheme of someone sending me money in western union or something. He offered to front me the cash to pay but I declined. Later on he picked me up and drove me 20 minutes to the neighboring town that has a bank/ATM so I could begin the process. There are no banks or ATMs here in Florencia, just a cash society. After we got the money and a package he was waiting for we headed back into Florencia. I met up with Isidro (Medardo´s brother, who Im staying with) and we took a long walk out into the outskirts of town and he showed me his lot and his house that he is bulding for his family. Its a beautiful lot with a great view of the cerro (mountain, like a mesa) in the distance and surrounded by corn fields on all sides.... hidden. They are laying foundations right now and the cistern is already in the ground but the work is only being done as he has the cash, little by little. Thats how Mexico works, pay what you can right now, and we will put it on hold until you have a little more. The USA should take a lesson from this when it comes to homes that apparently no one can afford anymore.

Last night I went back to the restaraunt for some tacos and beers. Normally I eat on the street but here food is so affordable that sitting down and talking with friends is nice and Im choosing that option lately. So I had 4 steak tacos with 2 beers, total price? 50 pesos, or about $4.25usd. On the street, we will call it 30pesos. Joe and I discussed something about Mexico when he was here, you may be poor but you will almost never go hungry. Here food is extreamly important, and lots of it. It is the main focus of the day it seems and Im still trying to get used to that!!!

Well, I better get on back to the van. It was interesting sleeping in it last night with the front up on jackstands! I had a bed in a private room but sometimes when I return home kind of late (10:30 - 11) everyone is asleep and I dont want to wake them walking through the house with my dog etc. Well thats all for now, I will try to do something interesting today to starve off some boredom. Ive been noticing a heavy fact, without a project or work of some type in a man´s life... there is no need to wake up. I gotta find something to do....